SELF-LOVE | Thoughts

From the dawn of time, I remember learning I should treat others the way I’d like to be treated. As the first-born child of God-fearing, Methodist-raised parents, this message was delightfully reinforced by studying Luke 6:31 while in Sunday school.

“Do to others as you’d have done to you, boys and girls,” the Pastor’s daughter preached as identical, corresponding coloring book pages were passed around the class. My Sunday school friends and I then scribbled in a Caucasian Jesus to bring home to our parents so they could accidentally misplace it in the recycling bin later that week.

As kids, most of us have been taught to treat others the way we want to be treated. Whether it be our parents, religion, or watching Disney’s Bambi (“if you can’t say anything nice…”), we somehow figure out that life tends to be more enjoyable and rewarding this way.

But sometimes we are so adamantly taught how to treat others; we forget how to properly treat ourselves.

How often do you hear a friend dismiss a sincere compliment, catch a parent disapprovingly looking at his or her reflection in the mirror, or see your sibling caught in a toxic relationship?

It has taken me an extraordinarily long time to write this particular post and not because I have a shortage of feelings about self-love, but because I feel as though I haven’t quite figured it out yet. I’m a work in progress, but this is a place I think many of us identify ourselves as being in. I dismiss compliments, get caught up in how my physical appearance is lacking compared to others’, and let toxic relationships fester for longer than I should let them. All these things add up to quite a lot of unhappiness.

Until recently, I identified “self-care” and “self-love” as taking five minutes out of my life to apply a face mask or buy myself a pretty dress as a reward for an achievement. These can definitely be expressions of self-care and self-love. But while doing these things can certainly be a way of properly grooming yourself to become the best version of yourself that you can be, I think there are many other facets to learning how to treat yourself with love and respect to maximize your enjoyment from life.

The first is learning how to truly love your physical appearance. The second, in my humble opinion (hey, I’ve been living for 26 years now, that gives me some clout), is who we choose to surround ourselves with.

SELF-LOVE: Physical Appearance, Diet, Exercise

While I’m never one to say “no” to an undressed wad of cold, plain spinach, and long (plyo-filled, of course) walks on the beach, I’ve learned that part of my satisfaction with my body relates to more than just what or how much I choose to eat or workout. My satisfaction comes from how I view food and exercise and what their function is in my life.

Like many women, I’ve struggled with food guilt, binging and purging, abusing the treadmill, counting calories, and struggling to adhere to a workout plan amongst countless other negative behaviors. My senior year of college, I convinced myself that a strict, vegan diet was the pinnacle of all health and further convinced myself to adopt an unmaintainable, intense workout regime.

I’ll look so great, I thought. I’ll be happy.

It’s no surprise that when I set myself up with so many lofty goals surrounding my physical appearance, I failed spectacularly. I hated working out. I didn’t see myself getting thinner. I hated food, which I now felt alienated me. My skin was still acne-prone and cutting dairy out wasn’t helping. To make matters worse, I viewed these failures as an innate character flaw in myself. Food and exercise had always been something I knew I could control, so I controlled them obsessively to feel like I had discipline in my life. Once I burned out, however, I stopped working out and limited my calories to “make up for” my decreased activity. I felt like sh*t. Was I a sh*tty person for not having a pristine physical body or lacking the consistent drive to get there?

A large part of how we see ourselves and how we determine our self-worth comes from our relationship with food and exercise. Unfortunately, in today’s culture, deviations from standards of beauty (flat abs, a miniscule waist, a dance-hall ass, you know the drill) can equate to a perceived deficiency of character or lack of self-care. We all know this is ultimately not true, but sometimes it’s quite hard to remember. It’s difficult to be a woman or gay man on social media. We’re bombarded with images on a daily basis of gorgeous tanned skin, pearly white teeth, and airbrushed perfect bodies. When we become acclimated to these images, it’s almost a cruel reminder looking in the mirror to see how we may not measure up.

Since I’ve turned 26, I’ve found that whatever images I’m plagued with on social media, I’m most happy with my body and self-image when I have a relaxed, non-image focused, sustainable attitude toward food and exercise- not when I’ve achieved a week-long calorie deficit and lost five pounds. I spent a vacation on the beach a few weeks ago and for the first time in a long time, I did not feel the need to hide or cover up my body. I found a sustainable workout regime (and I hadn’t lost weight!) that focused more on just getting me moving as well as found a non-calorie deficient diet I could manage. I enjoyed working out and appreciated preparing dinner. Confident in this, I accepted that my body is just that, – a body. A body is just that, but also so much more. It’s wonderful tool to aid me in doing what it must- living. I can enjoy hiking, dancing, hugging, laughing, and anything in between with what I have now, and I feel infinite. I can do all these things enjoyably without washboard abs, perfect skin, or after a five-day juice cleanse.

Self-love comes from a place of finding sustainable methods that help you find YOUR beautiful, whether it be on the inside, outside, or both. We all know what society finds beautiful, but when is the last time you asked yourself what you find beautiful about you? The more I’ve grown into my twenties (a tumultuous time, let’s be honest), the more I place value on loving myself for who I am and my effort to become a better version of myself. Part of this comes from remembering to practice forgiveness- forgiving myself when I’m not able to finish my workout, and not feeling guilty over eating what I want, when I want to. I’ve grown to appreciate a makeup free face, guilt-free donuts, and loving my body (and mind!) for what it can do for me. Loving yourself begins with thankfulness and forgiveness. After all, a body without a beautiful mind is simply an empty vessel.  

SELF-LOVE: Relationships

We are who we choose to surround ourselves with. Some of these people are in our lives whether we choose to have them there or not, including family members or co-workers. Others, we choose, such as friends and partners who become family.

Much of our happiness or lack thereof comes from this community of people. Will they be there for you or abandon you when you need it most? Are they someone you trust? How do they treat you?

Self-care is taking a part in positive relationships (both romantically and platonically) with those who lift you up. A positive relationship will demand the best of both parties, show you how to truly love and be loved, and teach you more about yourself. You’ll feel safe, trusted, and empathetic and return these courtesies to the other party involved. Cutting those out of your life who do not fit this criteria can immediately be the most painful experience in the world, but how can you care for yourself if surrounded by negativity?

I’ve been pretty lucky to stumble upon some of my closest friends through sports. High school volleyball gave me some of the healthiest friendships that I’ve had for the longest time. Distance has certainly taken a toll on how often we talk, but we all know we are there to support one another whenever or wherever. Through college, I gained more friends as I weeded through others. In my toughest times, they lifted me up and shown me unconditional love not unlike my own family. Relationships are never perfect, but at the end of the day, I’m grateful knowing the friendships I continue to foster push me to be a better, happier person.

After moving away from home, I’ve attempted navigating through a different type of relationship I’m most unfamiliar with: romantic relationships. Romantic relationships have always been more of a challenge for me. This past summer and fall, I let an overall negative romantic relationship fester because I so desperately wanted affection and thought I’d found it. I couldn’t be more wrong. I had been independent for so long and I wanted someone to take care of me, someone to be my best friend and someone to support. As we all know, relationships are a two-way road. I hated who I had become when with this guy and didn’t feel like myself. I was embarrassed. I hardly recognized the girl that left her house at night just to see him for a few hours, knowing full well I’d never get what I truly wanted: a stable, loving, relationship.This past winter, I did what I knew I had to do. I broke things off. It still hurts to this day, but I learned the hard way that just because someone else does not love you, does not mean you should not love yourself.

This past year, I did not do an overall great job of surrounding myself with healthy, positive, romantic relationships. This is why I especially consider myself lucky to be surrounded with friends and family who remind me I am very much loved for who I am. I’m trying to remind myself to be grateful for the hard lesson of not letting my self-image be contingent on someone else’s perception of me. It’s taken some time to begin rebuilding myself up again, and I’ve done so through the positive relationships I choose to surround myself with.

Now that I’m in my mid-twenties, I have less time to entertain negative friendships and relationships. I’m figuring out what I value in a relationship and am learning to say “no” to anything that is not that. Remember that you always have a decision, even when it feels like you don’t or when it feels impossibly hard. By evaluating relationships consistently, I’m practicing self-care and self-love. Surrounding myself with positive relationships serves to make me an overall happier, more secure person. I’m able to more effectively navigate life’s trials and tribulations with loved ones at my side.

***

So my question to you is this: what are you doing to self-care and self-love? It could be something as simple as acknowledging a friend’s compliment or finally having the courage to end a relationship that has been negatively impacting your happiness. It could even be as simple as taking five minutes during the day to apply a GlamGlow Supermud face mask.

Learning to love and care for yourself is not as innate as we may think it is. Life happens quickly. We become complacent, allowing ourselves to think that diminishing happiness is simply a reminder we should re-adjust to this new self-prescribed norm. What we may not realize, however, is that we can be much happier than we think. It starts from within and can require practice.


What if we started treating ourselves the way we treat our loved ones?


Self-care for me is 12/10 dancing in the rain.


Advertisements

After Dropping the Mic On My Last Post, Here’s A Follow Up on BODY IMAGE: More Angst, Another Kristin Hovie College Journey

I’m really not sure how to approach this post but I’ve sat down about to write it nearly four times. I figured I’d just YOLO this time- which kinda scares me because my last post was me like *dropping the mic* on your butt and now I have no idea where this is going to go.

But anyway~

BODY IMAGE.

So about my personal journey <3, y’all know if you follow me on Twitter that I am so passionately in love with Taco Bell that I created a whole different Twitter account that keeps you peasants in the know as to if I got TBell yet. Most of the tweets say “no” but there are at least three times recorded where I say “hell yeah” or just proceed to take a crappy-quality flash of pic of a plastic bag filled with quesadillas, potato soft tacos, and nothing short of fifteen mild sauces.

As you also may know, pretty much every time I’ve tweeted from that account I’m also a wine bottle into a ❤ girl’s night <3.

It’s no wonder my dumb butt gained about ten pounds my last semester at school. The combination of eating either so incredibly healthy then going insane and binge eating fast food and drinking no less than 4 bottles of wine per week did nothing good for me. To make matters worse, I decided to boycott exercising about a month after getting to school.

I had gotten back into my old pattern of feeling like crap if I didn’t nearly pass out from working out. I tried yoga but felt like it was just replacing lifting and not giving me enough cardio. I wanted to like it, but felt guilty unless I was doing a 3 mile warm up followed by sprints and a half an hour of abs. Truth be told, I would have been better off just doing yoga four times a week than exercising intensely for a week straight then doing nothing for the next month.

As I’m sure many of you girls do as well, I constantly find myself looking back on my high school pictures and wishing I could be that skinny again. Comparing my eighteen-year-old self to my current body is nothing short of embarrassing. College athletics changed me from thin to holy effin’ balls I’m only benching 80 pounds but how come my arms seem thick as hell? As I’m looking at these comparison pics below, however, I realize I look completely unhealthy as a high school senior. If you read my last post, you know I had a somewhat rough senior year in high school when my best friend left for college. I was limiting myself to under 1,000 calories per day and constantly feeling lightheaded was the norm. At the time I don’t think I was doing it for the “looks” as much as I doing it as a cry for attention at my friend. It didn’t work and she ultimately didn’t care.

Here's a really shiity PicStitch of me (on the left) as a junior in college and (on the right) my senior year of high school. Lifting and working out a lot had me gaining muscle which kind of scared me.

Here’s a really crappy Pic Collage of me (on the left) as a junior in college and (on the right) my senior year of high school. Lifting and working out a lot had me gaining muscle which kind of scared me.

But anyway, point in check, I was unhealthy at the time but couldn’t help but wish I had that body again. Seeing models and celebrities like Candice Swanepoel, Gisele Bundchen, Karlie Kloss, Taylor Swift, and Martha Hunt convinced me that unless my thighs were as thick as my calves, I was completely undesirable.

It’s terrible to watch myself (and other girls that I know) realize that they are being manipulated by magazines/television/movies but yet still want to look that way regardless. To this day, I refuse to even think about dating someone unless I lose twenty pounds, get rock hard abs, and have legs like Gisele (this is clearly a maladaptive thought but still persists in my mind regardless). I’m well aware that guys don’t all want a girl who looks like Kendall Jenner, but still struggle with believing it 100%. I am a direct result of the media and I’m sure I’m not alone on this.

So now that I’ve whined your ear off about my life, I’d like to try and solve this problem. I mean, if you made it this far in this post I might as well make it worth your while, right?

Right. So here’s a limerick about McNuggets.

Completely just kidding but anyway-

I’ve been doing some thinking about how to be happy in regard to myself physically.

The thought of making exercise my entire life and consuming a huge portion of my day makes me nauseous. I’ve already spent four years of my life dedicated to busting my ass for sprints, chasing and diving after a loose volleyball, and making all kinds of mad gains brah in the weight room. I don’t need to spend the rest of my life working out for that long per day. I’d rather do hoodrat stuff with my friends. So instead, I like to think that the energy I used to put into working out as an athlete can be used to instead be more conscious of what I eat. Not obsessive, but more conscious.

To add, working out intensely for only thirty minutes per day is completely acceptable as is walking at a moderate pace for an hour. I don’t need to be doing sprints for heaven’s sake. I would probably bust out a knee.

And last but most importantly, as soon as I say I should do something or I must do something I will realize I’m thinking in absolutes– a problematic thinking pattern. I just went all CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) on you, but hear me out. Saying things like, “I should go do twenty sprints” or “I must go out and run or I’m a complete fat ass” lead to guilt for what you didn’t do. Adding flexibility to my daily routine and being forgiving of myself has added a new element of happiness to my life. Who cares if I didn’t run frickin’ five miles today- it doesn’t make me any more or any less of a person.

PERSONAL OPINION ALERT************

Happiness for me doesn’t directly stem from simply working out. My happiness more often comes from me accepting my best effort (which is sometimes just getting my ass to the gym) and making healthier choices but not obsessing over it. I’m a lot happier doing a moderate workout than burning 1,000 calories and feeling like a bag of dicks because I’m so tired. This may not work for you, but it’s what has been kinda working for me lately. Maybe it would work for you. Who knows. But here, I’ll put things in perspective quick:

Your body is a wonderful chunk of flesh that is capable of doing a lot of cool crap if you let it. But that is essentially what it is- a chunk of flesh. Even though I gained a solid ten pounds (and definitely not in muscle) this past semester, none of my friends stopped talking to me. They still appeared to like me. Most people, I’ve learned, are comfortable around me when I’m comfortable around me. So even though I do not look like Alessandra Ambrosio in a bikini, if I act accepting of whatever is deemed not as desirable by the media, my friends have accepted me as well (if they aren’t complete shitheads, which if this is the case, your friends suck and you should work to change that because everyone deserves great friends).

All in all, even though the media makes a huuuuuge ass deal over how important having a great body is, I like to think that I’m more than that chunk of flesh. If you work your butt off for a great body, good for you. Be proud of yourself. If you don’t give a damn about working out, all the power to you. It doesn’t make you any less of a person. It may cause you to get heart disease later in life, but hey, who are we to judge?

So I hope this kind of gives you a perspective on things or gives you a chance to delve into the deep complexities of my brain on a daily basis (lolz just kidding, I mainly think about tacos and trying to remember where I put my darned car keys- little bugger seems to always run away from me!!).

But this is what I thought, when I thought it. Ten years from now I may disagree, but this is what gets me through life right now. I’m a work in progress and can offer you no for sure “answers”, but hopefully I’ve made you think a little about yourself and how you handle the issue of body image!

And here’s that limerick on McNuggets:

There once was a chicken who said,

“Well eff me I’m going to bed”

Three minutes passed and a snore

Then a chop and no more

“A McNugget!” a gleeful Hov said

~inspired by McDonald’s and Edward Lear’s Book Of Nonsense

xx Krusty Krust